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Friday 22 Aug 2014

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How one woman's hidden diabetes led to a shock leg amputation – BBC One's Inside Out explores the risks of increasingly common disease

In the last five years, the number of people with high-risk type 2 diabetes has doubled as levels of obesity have risen.

Diabetes UK say that every three minutes in the UK, someone is diagnosed with the disease. Yet many people don't even realise they might be at risk. Inside Out London on Monday 16 November on BBC One at 7.30pm explores the dangers and meets Gail Wellings whose leg was amputated because of complications arising from diabetes.

Gail says: "I had no indication that I had diabetes. I always knew that people drank, went to the loo all the time and were exhausted... I didn't have any of that. I didn't realise that people could go around and not have a clue."

Gail found out about her diabetes by chance when she realised that a nick on her foot wasn't healing.

She explains: "After a few weeks it hadn't cleared up and I thought I better go to the doctors. He took one look at me and said you're going to lose your foot. There really wasn't a choice – it was 'have your leg off or die.'"

Gail's shocking story shows how important early diagnosis is for those who have diabetes. She now helps run a volunteer group offering support and encouragement for prosthetic users and people facing surgery similar to hers.

To find out more about the hidden risks of diabetes, BBC London 94.9FM presenter Jo Good teams up with Diabetes UK and a high street chemist chain on a road-show in Ilford where they randomly test members of the public who have volunteered to find out if they might be in danger of developing the disease.

In just eight hours, the team tested over 214 people. Although this wasn't a scientific survey, Jo was shocked to find that one in seven of those tested on the day had high blood sugar levels. This means that they could potentially be at risk of developing diabetes in the future.

If left untreated, complications of diabetes include blindness, cardiovascular disease and, as Gail's heartbreaking story warns, even amputation.

Jo Good says: "Unless we take action to improve our lifestyles an estimated four million of us will develop diabetes over the next 15 years."

Also in the programme, Jo Good visits Gurdwara temple in Southall where a local GP, Dr Sandhu, has set up a pioneering diabetes clinic.

Seventy per cent of the community in Southall are Asian and those who live in the area are six times more likely to have diabetes than in a white area.

Dr Sandhu is on a mission to make sure that the messages of healthy eating and exercise are taken directly to those who have a high risk of developing the disease.

Inside Out is on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday 16 November (London area only – viewers elsewhere can watch iPlayer at bbc.co.uk/insideout).

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